Monday’s are typically considered the worst day of the week, for those leaving in the United States. However,here in Argentina, Monday is the usual day of rest, especially for my missionary host family. So, while all of you readers are stressed out about starting another week, I am enjoying a day of mental relaxation. I plan to do a lot of things within my few hours of free time including: talking with family, checking facebook, looking through photos, devotions, and sharing with everyone my past week’s experiences. It is hard to find time throughout the week to update this blog, so I will probably do it once weekly. Here are some highlight’s from the past week:
My teammates and I arrived safely in Argentina, without my luggage. We were greeted by our hosts, Carlos and Robin Radi. Thankfully they met us at the airport, because their Spanish skills were greatly needed. Robin assisted me in making a claim for my lost luggage. Once outside the airport, the European influence on Argentina’s culture was evident. A one hour drive took us to the Church of the Nazarene’s regional office for South America. In an area constructed of impoverished communities, and lavish homes, sits the compound. The guarded gates open up to a well-maintained mini-village. There are several large office spaces, around ten homes for missionaries and employees, and a hotel for special guests. Carlos and Robin have lived in on the houses for several years. During our stay, Pat and I will leave in a home, and Katie and Joelle will leave in an apartment – both are within the compound.
We met at the Radi’s house for dinner after getting settled. The entire group quickly connected. The evening was full of food and laughter. Carlos led a discussion focused on the expectations for the trip. Around midnight, we finally left for the evening.
During the first half of the day, Robin took us to a local mercado (supermarket). We were let loose to buy food for the next week. Things are expensive here! We will all be together for lunch everyday, but breakfast and dinner are on our own. Later that day, we traveled to Moreno Centro church. Carlos pastors this church, and this is where we will be most heavily involved. The church is in the center of town. (Check the photo album for pictures). The church is in need of some repair, but that doesn’t stop the Holy Spirit from visiting. The congregation contains around 100 people split between two services. Robin and Carlos have taken the church and it has expanded rapidly within he past few years. Aside from main services, there are several ministry outreaches throughout the week. This church is on the move! This particular Wednesday night was a bible study. One of the eldest and most loyal members of the church, Ishmael, led the lesson. Carlos kindly translated for us. The highlight of the evening was my poor Spanish grammar. Carlos asked us to introduce ourselves to the congregation. We went down the line, and then it was my turn. I was doing okay. Then, it was time to tell my age. “Tango desas-ochos anyos” is the correct pronunciation. Instead, I said “Tango desas-ochos anos.” If you are not familiar with Spanish, I urge you to look it up. I guarantee you will laugh. Hint: it would be very difficult to fit 18 anos in a pair of shorts. In my defense, I have learned a decent amount of Spanish in only a few days. Part of learning a language is making mistakes. It was a great icebreaker.
During the weekdays, we will be working with Robin and Carlos in the regional office assisting with anything that’s needed. Thursday evening was used for an outreach opportunity. We ventured an hour and a half to a small community. At this point, reality sunk in. During all of training camp, we were assured that Argentina closely resembles the United States and that poverty would not be an issue. Reality could not be more different. Sure, the city of Buenos Aires is beautiful. But, even just a few minutes outside of the city, the scenery changes drastically. The long car ride was made even longer by unpaved and undeveloped roads. We approach a very humble abode. This is our destination. What I would normally associated with a shed, is a family’s home. The house did not have a solid structure. Instead, it was bits of scrap metal and wood slapped together to create a shelter. Floors and insulation are reserved for the wealthy. A blanket was used as a room divider. As I sat on the dirt floor and looked up, I notice that the roof contained numerous holes. I never experienced anything like this. Sure, I have seen missionaries give a presentation on this, but now, I am in it. Although the family’s money was limited, their hospitality was not. Matte and snacks circulated around the room during a showing of the Jesus Film. The night ended with prayer and conversation.
Friday mornings are again, devoted to office work. In the evening there is a drama ministry. Community members are invited to the church to participate in a couple hours of fun. The instructor had us express the music through motions. Then, we had to improvise a skit. I was given the role of a traveler in an airport who lost his girlfriend. I was trying to find my girlfriend. This was very difficult because of the language barrier, but my efforts equated to a very funny skit.
Saturday & Sunday
Saturday and Sunday are our busiest days of the week. The entire day is spent at the church. Saturday started with a Sunday school class. Then, I had my first practice with the praise band. Music at the Moreno Centro church varies greatly from my norm. Instead of labeling notes with letters or numbers, they are labeled as “Do, Re, Me, Fa, La, Sol, Si, Do.” Theoretically this is genius. By labeling notes with something other than a number or letter, the language barrier is eliminated. The problem is learning piano all over again, okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Sunday morning worship was great and was followed by a great message about Pentecost.
Because I just wrote all of this in one setting, I am a little tired. Thanks for reading, and check back again. As always, your support is appreciated!